Road rage is a serious problem for cyclists. If you’ve ridden any amount of time, you’ve certainly experienced the extra loud horn, the close pass, the over-revved engine, shouts, and the hand gestures.
And at the same time you’ve probably thought, “What the F***?!? I wasn’t doing anything. Jerk.”
Where does the road rage come from?
Well, I saw them today. From the perspective of a driver. The reason for all the road rage.
I was driving through my small town today, which is itself a small slice of cycling heaven. Lots of cyclists start here or ride through here. I often get groups of 30 riders coming past my house on big club rides, and there are endless solo or pairs coming through all the time.
The roads are narrow, there are few painted lines even, blind corners and hills, and there are no sidewalks. Just road and soft shoulders. It’s a place where drivers and cyclists truly need to co-exist.
There’s one particular fun hill to climb and descend. It’s about a half mile up and another half down. The downs end at stop signs.
I was driving my kids to camp this morning heading up this hill as I approached a line of three cars stuck behind a group of four cyclists, and I quickly caught up. The car in front couldn’t pass because the group was pretty well oblivious to the fact that there were cars lining up behind them. They were attacking the hill, standing, riding hard, bikes jerking back and forth as happens in a sprint, passing each other erratically as in a race. It was pretty well impossible to pass safely, or at least comfortably, in a car even though they were going well under the speed limit up this hill.
They reached the top of the hill, still without allowing anyone to pass, and bombed down the descent, pulling ahead of the cars. (No problem with that part.)
Until they reached the bottom, where they took a left turn at a 4-way stop at full speed. In full view of at least 4 motorists who are already watching closely and shaking their heads at these guys.
Inconsiderate and reckless. And damaging to the entire cycling community.
Now these guys are serious cyclists. They know what they’re doing. They all wore the kit from a local racing club.
They are too serious, apparently, to care.
I’m no stickler for traffic rules on the bike. I’ll run stop signs, but certainly not without slowing down, and only if I can see that there’s no cars around, or at least if there are, if I have eye contact of a driver who is letting me go through. And I’ll wave thanks.
And if I’m at all in view of motorists, I’m much more careful about how I behave. Because I know that they’re watching and judging.
Does this make me any better than these guys? I don’t know.
How we behave affects all of us.